VEGAS NOTEBOOK: Victor Wembanyama shuts it down; Knicks’ Trevor Keels has a lot to prove

17 July 2023

LAS VEGAS — The curtain fell on Victor Wembanyama’s Summer League after a much better final act.

The towering Frenchman put on an impressive show Sunday at the Thomas & Mack Center, dropping 27 points with 12 rebounds and three blocks in San Antonio’s 85-80 defeat to the Blazers.

The 19-year-old, who has been through a rollercoaster the last few weeks with the draft, media scrutiny and a beef with Britney Spears, was then shut down for the rest of the tournament, the Spurs announced.

He will miss at least two games.

“In the past month, I think basketball wasn’t even 50 percent of my schedule,” Wembanyama said. “I can’t stand it. I know it’s a special moment in my life, but I’m glad it’s over. Honestly, I just want to hoop.”

Sunday was quite the turnaround performance from Wembanyama, who struggled mightily in his debut two days prior and acknowledged feeling lost/overwhelmed.

He lasted one more Summer League game than Zion Williamson in 2019, the last super-hyped prospect who left Vegas with a sore knee.

The next time Wembanyama will play on TV will be the NBA preseason in October.

“It’s just me getting comfortable with myself and my body on the court,” Wembanyama said. “Before (Sunday), I had like two practices and one game. I was just getting going.”


Over a year after he was drafted, Trevor Keels’ path to a Knicks career remains muddled. There are no roster spots. No openings in the rotation. No current contract.

For those reasons, the Summer League – which is already about halfway finished – is vital.

“It’s super important,” Keels said after he scored eight points in Sunday’s blowout defeat to the Nets. “I want to show my skills, show what I got, show how I can help the Knicks, show I’m a great fit for the Knicks.”

As the 42nd pick in 2022, Keels, still only 19, represents the Knicks only draft choice over the last two years. They’ve traded the others. But Keels, unlike the franchise’s previous second-round picks (Miles McBride and Jericho Sims), hasn’t gained traction.

Part of that is a numbers crunch. New York’s roster has been filled to the brim since Keels was drafted. Another part is Keels failing to distinguish himself. On the latter, the opening two games of Summer League weren’t helpful.

He started at point guard in both contests but was held to an average of five points on 4-of-14 shooting. The Knicks have been outscored by 52 points in Keels’ 25 combined minutes.

For the glass half-full crowd, Keels’ best minutes were in the first half Sunday – when his aggressiveness ratcheted up. He has at least two more games to build off that and generate some momentum before training camp.

“Just show who I am, show that I’m a dog,” Keels said. “Show that I can play both ends, that I can defend and also that I can run a team. Let out who I am, that I’m a competitor, that I’m all about winning.”


After a better showing in Game 2 of Summer League – albeit in a lopsided defeat – Isaiah Roby revealed that he was only cleared to play two weeks prior because of a lingering ankle injury.

Roby, who is a candidate to crack the Knicks rotation as a backup power forward, first suffered an ankle injury in February. He was then cut by the Spurs and signed by the Knicks with $400,000 guaranteed up front.

His salary for the 2023-24 season is non guaranteed.

“I feel a little slow right now, but overall I feel strong. I just feel like a step slow. I haven’t played live basketball in a long time,” said Roby, adding that he originally pushed too hard to return from the ankle sprain. “I’ve been playing a lot of one-on-one, three-on-three. This Summer League is a test for me right now.”

Roby, 25, is among the most experienced players at Summer League with 151 NBA appearances under his belt. But he also pushed to play in Vegas because of the long injury hiatus.

“It wasn’t like a make or break thing for me, but I wanted to be able to play in this, and test my limit and see where I’m at physically,” Roby said.

The Knicks are also monitoring the free-agent market for a veteran backup power forward, a source said. Available players include Gorgui Dieng and Derrick Jones Jr.


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